How to get rid of ladybugs in your home and why they’re everywhere right now



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Of all the insects that exist, ladybugs are among the most popular. Their image appears on clothing and home decor, and many people get excited when a random ladybug lands on them outside. But spotting ladybugs indoors is another story.

Ladybugs go through what is called diapause, which is much like hibernation, during the winter. In diapause, they will find a warm and comfortable place to crouch down and live off their own energy reserves to get through the colder months. “They’re looking for places to spend the winter,” says Kristian Holstrom, program associate in the Pest Management Office at Rutgers University. He points out that ladybugs tend to move around in droves. “They communicate with each other via pheromones, so they release a scent to tell others it’s a good place,” he says.

Unfortunately, this warm and cozy place can be your home. Across the country, owners are finding more ladybugs indoors as the weather cools. And, with that, it’s only natural to wonder how to get rid of ladybugs in your home. Entomologists (aka bug experts) break it down.

What are ladybugs again?

Ladybugs – not all female, by the way – are actually called ladybugs and they belong to the family. Coccinellidae, according to Howard Russell, MS, an entomologist at Michigan State University. Fun fact: In Europe, ladybugs are called “ladybugs,” says Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., a certified entomologist and director of education and operations training for Rentokil North America.

Not all ladybugs are created equal: Troyano points out that there are over 500 different types of insects that we tend to call ladybugs. However, they’re all typically less than a quarter of an inch long and have a rounded shape with an orange or red back, Russell explains.

Why do ladybugs go indoors?

It’s not just you who are seeing more ladybugs indoors right now – it’s happening everywhere, and even to entomologists. “I see hundreds of them around my house,” says Russell. Holstrom also says he saw a lot of ladybugs in his house.

But… why now? “In the fall, when the weather turns cool, ladybugs flock to buildings and look for an opening to enter to safely wait for the cold winter months,” says Troyano. But, she points out, ladybugs can go inside, only to try and come back if temperatures fluctuate, which they tend to do a lot in early fall.

“At the first sign of cold, ladybugs will likely seek shelter in homes, but may resurface and try to return outside if it is unusually hot or temperatures rise,” Troyano explains. And this may be the reason why you suddenly see them around your home.

“The problem is, when they walk into your house, it disrupts the whole diapause mechanism,” says entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Florida. “They expect to find a place to hide, but they come in and it’s hot. They find themselves trapped inside the house where the weather is nice.

How do you prevent ladybugs from entering your home?

Ladybugs like to settle somewhere where there is a void, such as window and door seals. “However, clusters of insects have been found on exposed surfaces in attics, false ceilings and crawl spaces,” says Troyano.

She recommends doing a few things to keep ladybugs out:

  • Inspect your home for cracks, holes, and other places ladybugs might sneak up on them. If you can, seal any holes or cracks you find.
  • Make sure your windows and door frames are properly sealed.
  • Install door brushes under the gaps under your doors, including your garage door.
  • Repair holes and tears in screens.
  • Do a good inspection of outdoor plants for ladybugs before bringing them back indoors.

    If you have the time and money (and you’re really having a ladybug problem), Holstrom suggests removing the siding around your windows and sealing them from the outside. “The boards that wrap your house have small spaces around the windows,” he explains. “Beetles get behind your siding and enter your house through these gaps. There are inevitably small spaces where they can fit behind your trim and into the house.

    How to get rid of ladybugs in your home

    You have a few options for getting rid of ladybugs in your home. But, while you can read online that certain herbs and essential oils will help keep ladybugs away, Holstrom says these tips likely won’t help.

    Instead, try these tips:

    • Suck them up. The safest and most efficient way to get rid of ladybugs in your home is to simply vacuum them up, says Troyano. In other words, use the nozzle on your vacuum cleaner or handheld and just suck them up as you see them. Then, throw them outside, ideally away from your windows and doors. But Russell has a warning: “Be aware they can stink your vacuum cleaner.
    • Pick them up. If you only see one or two ladybugs, Pereira recommends simply brushing them off in a container and escorting them. “They fly, so you have to go fast,” warns Troyano.
    • Use a special spray outside. Holstrom points out that ladybugs are beneficial insects that like to eat pests, so killing them is not ideal. But, if you can’t stand the situation anymore, he suggests using a spray outside your home like Ortho Home Defense. “Spray it around surfaces where they might come into your home,” says Holstrom. The spray leaves a residue that can be toxic to ladybugs, he explains.

      One thing you definitely don’t want to do is squash these bugs, Pereira says. “They have juices inside that will stain fabric and other things,” he points out.

      If you see a large number of ladybugs indoors and vacuuming and other techniques don’t do the trick, Troyano recommends calling an exterminator for help. “Your local pest control expert can do a thorough inspection of your property and set up a prevention program before a problem arises to help keep these pests out,” she says.

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